Olives and olive oil have many uses including culinary and cosmetic. Lesser known are olive leaves themselves, which are an excellent source of nutritional and medicinal compounds.
A little bit of history… olive leaves were first used in Egypt for their medicinal value to treat fever, inflammatory diseases as well as chronic conditions such as high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and arthritis. Olive leaves have also been found to have antibiotic and anti-aging properties.
Research is still ongoing to determine the exact benefits of olive leaf and olive leaf extract but there are many good things going for those who use this ingredient.
What Makes The Olive Plant Special
Olive leaves contain a compound known as oleuropein. This polyphenol has antioxidant properties and can help to fight antioxidants that can damage our cells.
Oleuropein also has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties, which offer olive leaf its medicinal properties.
The Top Health Benefits of Olive Leafs & Olive Leaf Extract
Boosting Cognitive Function
Scientists have studied how olive leaf extract affects brain function and the findings are impressive.
In one study, researchers found that oleuropein, the antioxidant compound found in olive leaf, can mitigate the development of Alzheimer’s Disease. The study also showed that the same effects are feasible for atherosclerosis, which is also an age-related disease.
Another study on the effects of the Mediterranean diet on brain function found that this diet, which also contains olive oil could slow down or prevent the development of dementia.
The study was conducted on more than 300 people, some of whom subsisted on a Mediterranean diet, which typically includes small portions of red meat, a significant amount of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. For the study, olive oil supplements were included in the diet.
Mediterranean diet is packed with foods rich in anti-oxidants. Those who subsisted on this diet and ingested olive oil supplements demonstrated significant improvement in their cognitive function over a period of five years.
The study concluded that olive leaf extract or olive oil is a safe, natural, and effective way to treat brain and age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Mitigating Cardiovascular Diseases
Olive oil can be good for the heart. New drinks made from olive leaf extract are becoming increasingly popular.
Makers of these drinks claim that the beverages contain hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein, which help with heart function. While these compounds are found in olives and olive oils, they are found in larger quantities in olive leaves.
Hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein can reduce LDL, commonly known as bad cholesterol. These compounds work to expand blood vessels to allow more blood to flow throughout the cardiovascular system.
Some researchers have found that intake of hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein can help to relieve symptoms of arrhythmia.
Fighting Against Bacteria, Viruses, and Fungi
In the past, researchers found that the main compound found in olive leaf i.e. oleuropein, contains elenolic acid. Elenolic acid can prevent the growth of bacteria, fungi, and parasites.
Studies also found the anti-viral compound found in olive leaf works to selectively prevent the proliferation of a specific virus in an infected person. Existing medical antibiotics are yet to deliver such an effect.
In a different study, researchers found that olive leaf extract contains antimicrobial properties and can therefore mitigate the growth of fungi and bacteria whether these are found on the skin, hair or nails.
In the same study, olive oil extract was also effective at killing bacteria that caused oral, genital, and lower intestine infections.
Olive leaf extract may also be effective at combating Hepatitis B, shingles, gonorrhea, malaria, meningitis, pneumonia, malaria, tuberculosis, dental, urinary, and ear infections.
Combating Cancer Cells
Olive leaf contains apigenin and luteolin, which are important anti-cancer compounds. The main chemical compound found in olive leaf, oleuropein, can also help to mitigate the development of breast cancer.
In one study, researchers found that olive leaf extra has leukemia-fighting effects on the associated cancer cells.
In a different study, olive leaf was also found to successfully fight cancer. Scientists further found that olive leaf extract could also protect the skin from cancer.
Elsewhere, it was found that olive leaf extract prevented cell reproduction and triggered early cell death of skin cancer cells. Olive leaf extract may also minimize tumor volume.
Protection Against Premature Skin Aging
The antioxidant properties of olive leaf fight against free radicals to minimize skin damage and premature aging.
In a study, researchers administered olive leaf extract to mice that had UV radiation damage. The olive leaf extract reduced the mice’s skin thickness and improved skin elasticity.
Elsewhere, scientists found that olive leaf extract delivered better results than vitamin E with regard to healing and protecting the skin. In particular, findings showed that olive leaf extract performed better in minimizing redness and dryness and increasing blood flow.
Preventing Development of Diabetes
Olive leaf extract can prevent and treat diabetes. In particular, the extract can help to balance blood sugar levels and improve the function of insulin the body.
How To Add Olive Leaf Extract Into Your Diet
Most of us cannot readily access olive oil extract. However, there are several easy ways to enjoy the benefits of this amazing ingredient.
Ideally, look for supplements or beverages that contain at least 20% oleuropein. If all you can find are products containing 10% oleuropein, simply double the dose.
Some healthy stores stock olive leaf teas. If you opt to make your own tea from whole, fresh olive leaves, be sure that the leaves do not contain agricultural chemicals.
If you are not a fan of tea or you do not like swallowing pills, opt for olive leaf beverages, some of which can be found in supermarkets.
Be Safe When Using Olive Leafs
It is important to be cautious when using plants, herbs, and supplements. Because these products are natural and take a while to deliver significant results, it is easy to overdose on them.
Generally, olive leaf and olive leaf extract are safe to use. However, it is important to consult your doctor before using these ingredients especially if you are on chemotherapy medicine or have low blood sugar.
Beware that olive leaf extract can suppress blood pressure. It is important to watch your intake to ensure your blood pressure levels do not go too low.
At the same time, olive leaf can have a negative interaction with chemotherapy drugs. To avoid any adverse effects, consult your doctor before using olive leaf.
Olive leaf has numerous health benefits, many of which are backed by scientific research. To enjoy these benefits, add supplements, teas and olive leaf beverages to your diet. However, be sure to consult a doctor before making significant changes to your lifestyle.